Aussie grandma's shock claim after breathing in 'toxic particles' from life-saving device

Eva Lindbloom claims she's heard 'nothing' from Philips despite a global recall of a critical health device.

Eva Lindbloom is a member of a class action against Philips Electronics. Source: Supplied
Eva Lindbloom is a member of a class action against Philips Electronics. Source: Supplied

A retired nurse has been left fearing for her future after using an allegedly faulty device to treat a chronic health condition. Grandmother Eva Lindbloom, from Mandurah, WA, claims she has developed health complications as a result of using a Philips Electronics CPAP machine, to help treat her sleep apnea.

Lindbloom, who is part of an upcoming class action against the company, alleges she has never heard from Philips about the machines which were recalled in June 2021 after the company became aware of potential health risks.

“It’s been nearly three years since I informed Philips about my machine and I have heard nothing," she told Yahoo News Australia. "I’m frightened of the health impacts of using this device."

The foam used to reduce the noise in the devices, made out of polyester-based polyurethane (PE-PUR) was allegedly leaking toxic particles and gas into users’ lungs, causing a range of health issues including respiratory inflammation and infections, and “carcinogenic effects and toxicity to liver, kidneys and nerves”.

Lindbloom had been using her WA health department-issued machine for four years before the recall since she was diagnosed with sleep apnea in 2017. She claims that it was only by chance that she heard about the machines being withdrawn from the market. The Western Australian Department of Health has been contacted for comment over the matter but did not answer questions by a provided deadline.

Black particles can be seen in one of the Philips machines. Source: GMP Law
Black particles can be seen in one of the Philips machines. Source: GMP Law

“I went to buy a new mask and filters and staff said; ‘Do you know this machine was withdrawn in June?’” she told Yahoo News Australia. The grandmother claims she had “no idea”.

The multinational has been forced to recall an estimated 76,000 devices in Australia and millions more across the globe.

She was advised to register her machine with Philips and to wait for a replacement. But despite the alleged link to health complications, Lindbloom had no choice but to continue using the faulty machine – with no replacement on the way.

“First we were told to get a filter that would stop you from inhaling the microscopic plastic foam,” she said. “But the filter meant that the machine’s humidifier couldn’t be used and she developed “really bad” sinus problems.

After a visit to the GP, it was suggested she should stop using the machine entirely. “I was without a machine for three months,” she said. But because of a condition of her driver’s licence which meant that she needed to use the machine to be complaint, she was not allowed to drive.

“I noticed I was getting really tired, and sluggish and couldn’t get any joy out of the health department or anything from Philips. I was fearing for my health. I felt like I was walking through molasses,” she said.

Because she couldn’t afford to stop driving, Lindbloom decided to buy herself and her husband, who also uses the machine, new ResMed CPAP machines, bypassing the health department in December 2021.

In doing so, she spent $3,000 out of her pension, which she claims means she’s been dropped from the free health department’s care. “It’s just despicable,” she said.

Lindbloom claims she has since been diagnosed with chronic swelling of her airways and asthma, and requires a daily inhaler to help her breathe, conditions which her lung specialist confirmed in writing could be linked to use of the faulty machine.

Eva Lindbloom is part of a class action against Philips Electronics. Source: Supplied
Eva Lindbloom is part of a class action against Philips Electronics. Source: Supplied

Lindbloom is calling on others to join the class action to ensure that Philips “take responsibility”.

“I don’t know what the future is going to hold,” she said of her health condition. “It plays on your mind.”

A class action against Philips Electronics has now entered court proceedings after Gerard Malouf and Partners (GMP Law) took over the case from another law firm which withdrew the case.

“Since taking over the class, we have uncovered significant faults with their products, which will be substantiated by evidence during court proceedings,” Chairman of GMP Law, Gerard Malouf told Yahoo.

Yahoo understands that along with contacting customers directly, Philips also encouraged hospitals and independent distributors to notify patients of the recall and repair and replacement program.

A spokesperson for Philips Australia told Yahoo that the company is “committed” to patients who rely on sleep and respiratory care devices.

“Our priority is patient safety and quality and we understand how important Philips Respironics’ sleep therapy devices and ventilators are to patients that use them,” the spokesperson said.

The company described the recall as an “abundance of caution” approach ahead of more definitive testing – which is ongoing. They say “extensive” testing “concluded that use of the sleep therapy devices is not expected to result in appreciable harm to health in patients.”

The spokesperson added that in Australia, the company is nearing completion of its repair and replacement program for affected products, with 94 per cent of registered devices completed.

“As we move to complete the program in Australia, we continue to encourage all patients and customers to register if they have yet to do so, and to do so without delay. We will continue to support patients and customers seeking replacements, and encourage them to contact our call centres.”

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